FORGIVE

Have you ever held a grudge against someone? If so, did it make you feel better? I’ve done that in the past, and I can honestly say the only person who felt the pain of that grudge was me, and it was awful. Carrying around anger against someone else only hurts the person who is carrying it.

In the Lord’s prayer, Jesus showed us that forgiving is important when He told us to pray, “…and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us” (Matthew 6:12).

I know it can be difficult to forgive someone you feel has wronged you, but trust me when I tell you that you will feel so much better when you let it go.

The Mister says that whenever someone has done something against him, he prays about it right away, tells the Lord that he holds no ill will toward them, and asks God not to hold what they did against them. He says that’s the first step he takes in healing any pain they’ve caused. Since he’s told me about it, I’ve tried it, too, and it really does help to rid me of bad feelings right away.

If you’re having trouble forgiving someone, ask God to help you see them the way He sees them. I know someone who was ready to leave her husband, until she asked God to let her see him through the Lord’s eyes. She said He showed her how broken and imperfect her husband was, and that caused her to feel great love and compassion for him, which made it much easier for her to forgive him. I’m happy to say they are still together and their marriage is stronger than ever.

It’s hypocritical to hold a grudge against someone else, yet expect God to forgive my sins. What makes my sins more forgivable than the sins committed against me by somebody else? Not a thing! In fact, to receive God’s forgiveness, I MUST forgive others. Jesus said, “For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your Heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins” (Matthew 6:14-15).

Holding a grudge only hurts the person holding it, so let it go and set yourself free from those awful feelings. Until next time, God bless 🙂

Pray

I’ve heard that if you do something for 21 days in a row, it becomes a habit, so a week ago, I decided that every morning for 21 days in a row, I would work out on the elliptical machine in my basement within five minutes of waking up in the hope that it will become a good daily habit. While doing my workout, I listen to Dr. David Jeremiah on YouTube. Today’s* sermon was called “Overcoming Everything With Prayer,” and it reminded me of the importance of prayer time. 

I pray every day, but sometimes, it’s half-hearted. You see, I have a bad habit of sometimes putting God on the back burner while I let life get in between me and Him. That is, instead of going to a quiet place and talking with Him, giving Him all of my attention, I’ll toss up a few praises and requests while I’m doing other things. I’m not saying that we shouldn’t praise and/or petition God while we’re busy with other things; we should do that, but we must also set aside time that is devoted solely to God, time where we give Him all of our attention, without the distraction of doing something else at the same time. 

I have an interesting story about praying for my stepson. He wanted to buy a car, and he had two specific models in mind: Volkswagen Jetta and Volkswagen Golf. He didn’t care which one, but it had to have a standard transmission. He told his dad that he had been scouring the newspapers and internet in search of one of these cars (one that was also affordable), and kept coming up with nothing. His dad said, “Stop looking and start praying. God will provide what you need. It might not necessarily be what you want, because what you want might not be the best thing for you, but He will give you what you need.” So the three of us began praying about finding the car that was right for him. 

A couple of weeks later, while walking to his local Blockbuster to rent a video (yes, this is an old story haha), my stepson walked through an area of the plaza where folks often parked cars they were trying to sell. There were no cars for sale as he entered the plaza, but while he was inside the Blockbuster store, someone parked a VW, and taped inside the window was a for sale sign (I cannot remember which model it was, but it was one of the two he wanted). He stopped to look it over, and when he saw it had everything he wanted, he phoned the seller to inquire about the cost. He had saved up $4,500, but the seller was asking for around $8,000. He asked the seller if he would take $4,500 down and let him make payments, to which the seller replied that he would have to discuss it with his wife and would get back to him with an answer the next day. 

The seller phoned him the next day to say, “My wife and I prayed about your offer, and we both feel that the Lord has put it on our hearts that we are to give you the car.” My stepson took that to mean they would accept the $4,500 as a down payment, and he’d make monthly payments on the balance, so he asked what his monthly payments would be. The seller said, “I don’t think you understand what I’m saying. We aren’t selling the car to you. We are giving it to you.” Not only did he find the car he wanted, but he got it for free! God is so good!! We’d only been praying about the car for a couple of weeks before God responded so very favourably. 

But what about when we pray for something for a long time with no results? Should we give up? Nope. Unless the Lord is making it clear that the answer to a specific prayer is “no,” we should dig in and keep praying about it. 

Way back when I still lived in California, I used to listen to  1050 AM, a Christian talk radio station, and one morning they were talking with a guy who ministered to the homeless and addicted in Los Angeles’ infamous Skid Row area. His organization ran a soup kitchen, and members would go out and invite these men and women in to give them a hot, nutritious meal along with some spiritual food in the form of a sermon. During one of those sermons, a vision of a woman’s name on a gravestone flashed through his mind. He had a very strong feeling that this woman had prayed a long, long time for her son to be delivered from an addiction to drugs and alcohol, and that he would receive Jesus as his saviour. He suddenly felt that her son was sitting in that audience. It hit him like a lightning bolt, he said, and he interrupted his sermon to talk about this vision. And when he mentioned the name he saw carved on that headstone, a man spoke up, saying, “That’s my mother’s name. She was always praying for me.” That man gave his life to Jesus that day. Turns out his mom had passed away about 20 years before! He went into rehab, got off the drugs, and began working with the ministry to lead others to Christ. God answered that mother’s prayers 20 years after she left this world! 

My point in telling you about this is to encourage you to keep praying even when you’re not seeing the results you’re looking for, “for we live by faith, not by sight” (2 Corinthians 5:7). His mom never gave up on him, she prayed until she died, and God rewarded her faith by answering her prayers so favourably.

Never give up. Don’t give up on your loved ones, yourself, or whomever/whatever you’re praying about, but most importantly, never give up on God. He won’t give up on you. 

Until next time, God bless you. 

Praise is for God

I apologize for not posting anything for the last few months. Things have been very hectic, but in a good way. 

The Mister and I have spent the last year and a half renovating our home, and we sold it in early May. Once it was sold, we had to go out and find a new place to live. The area we were interested in is 1.5 hours away from our old place, so we would set up viewings of up to a half a dozen houses at a time to make the three-hour round trip drive worth our while. We found a place we love, made an offer that was accepted by the sellers, then immediately put our focus on getting everything packed and ready to move. We began moving our boxes over on July 23, finishing up with moving our furniture over on July 26. We have been unpacking, organizing, running errands, and even managed to go to a couple of doctor’s appointments since then. We’ve been crazy busy! 

This past Sunday, I took a break from all that drudgery and decided to go check out a church in my new town. It’s only 800 metres from my new home, so I decided to walk there and back. Because this is such a small town (population 4,002), everybody in that church knew I was a newby, and they made me feel so very welcome. 

During the praise and worship portion, as we were singing “Victory in Jesus,” I thought, gosh, the songs they’re singing are so old, I wish they’d sing something more contemporary.  The moment that thought passed through my head, I received a light rebuke:  “These songs of praise and worship aren’t for your entertainment.” 

After church, as I was walking back home, I was thinking about that rebuke. Praise and Worship is not for our entertainment; it is for God, it’s one of the ways we honour Him. When we are offering praise and worship, we need to focus on God, not ourselves. By thinking about whether or not I liked the music, I was caring more about what I want when I should have been focused on singing praises the Lord wants to hear, and drawing closer to Him through worship. 

As I rolled all of this around in my head, I came to realize three things: 

  1. Praise is for God. He wants to hear us praising Him for all His great works. He really is great, and there is no human superlative strong enough to describe Him, but we should praise Him as best we can. 
  2. Worship is for God and us.  When we’re worshiping, showing our adoration for Him, we’re in His presence and that’s a great place to be. Worship draws us closer to Him, and that’s where He wants us. 
  3. The Sermon is for us. We’re taught how to incorporate the Word into our daily lives. 

This coming Sunday, when I walk back into that church, it will be with a new attitude. I’ve got a feeling I’m going to be getting a lot more out of church. 

Well, time to get back to unpacking and organizing. God bless you 🙂

The Mister’s Musings

The Mister and I spend a lot of time talking with each other. Sometimes we play little ethics games, asking questions like, “If you could use a time machine to go back and kill Hitler when he was a baby, would you do it?” We also play a game called “Death is not an option,” where we present each other with two awful tasks, and ask, “Which would you rather do?” And we can’t answer by saying we’d rather die than do either task, because death is not an option. We’re a weird couple.

Of all the stuff we talk about, my favourite conversations are about God. Lately, we’ve been discussing the identity of the two witnesses mentioned by John in Revelation 11.

“And I will appoint my two witnesses, and they will prophesy 1,260 days, clothed in sackcloth.” ~ Revelation 11:3

I said, “They’re Moses and Elijah,” and he said, “They’re Enoch and Elijah.”  We might both be wrong, but we enjoy debating and defending our positions. I recently saw a sermon by Dr. David Jeremiah on YouTube, in which he said he believes the witnesses are Moses and Elijah, so I went running to The Mister, saying, “Check this out, David Jeremiah is backing me up! Ha! I win!” 😅  He gave it a listen, then told me again why he thinks it’s really Enoch and Elijah. He made me rethink my position. That’s not to say that I’m completely on board with Enoch and Elijah being the witnesses, but I’m no longer 100% certain they’re Moses and Elijah. Here’s our debate (paraphrased):

Me:  Why are you so sure that it’s Enoch and Elijah?

Him:  Because the Bible tells us it’s been appointed for all men to die once, and Enoch and Elijah haven’t died yet.

Me:  Yeah, but the witnesses could be a couple of people born yesterday, or not even born yet.

Him:  Sure, but how do Enoch and Elijah finally die? They have to die some day because the Bible tells us that all must die at least once.

Me:  So where is God hiding Enoch and Elijah?

Him:  In Heaven.

Me:  But Enoch and Elijah were prophets well before the birth of Christ, and Jesus himself said that no man, except for Jesus, had seen heaven, so they can’t be there.

“No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven – the Son of Man.” ~ John 3:13

Him:  Jesus’ death and resurrection opened the Kingdom of Heaven to mankind.

Me:  He has them hidden away, we just don’t know where.

Him:  Also, the witnesses need to have witnessed something. Enoch and Elijah, being alive as long as they have, witnessed the relevant moments. Someone born yesterday hasn’t.

Another of our more recent discussions has been about the age of the earth. A lot of people say the Bible can’t possibly be true because if we go by the Biblical timeline, the earth is only about 6,000 years old, while scientists say it’s waaaay older than that. But the Mister has a couple of interesting thoughts about that as well.  He says since God created Adam and Eve as adults, why couldn’t He have created the earth as older, too? Or Adam and Eve could have been living in the Garden for a loooooong time before they messed everything up, which could also explain why the earth is so old.

The Bible tells us Adam died at the age of 930, but while they were in the Garden, they were not aging. Adam and Eve began to age only after they were banished from the Garden, so if they didn’t begin aging until after the fall, then he lived 930 years after leaving Eden. We have no way of knowing how long he was in the Garden. Could it be that they were in the Garden for millions of years? We’ll probably never know, but The Mister loves to speculate, and I love it when he does because it gives me food for thought.

Him:  When Adam was created, he was created to be an eternal being.  There was no concept of time with Adam and Eve…there was no aging or death. When dealing with Godly concepts, you have to think outside the box. Time, like all things, is a creation of God. He lives outside of time, and so did Adam and Eve, until the fall. Meanwhile, the earth aged. Keep in mind that we are talking about a being who spoke the universe into existence. Why would we limit what He is capable of doing? God created all of the natural laws that affect us and the universe, but He is outside of that. It doesn’t require a great stretch to see that the creator of time would be able to view the past, present and future at the same time. The only limits on God are those we put on Him.

Me:  Which is why we’re told to pray in faith. If we don’t have faith, we limit the way God moves in our lives.

Him:  The Leafs are playing Boston, and if the Leafs don’t win this game, they’re out.

Me:  Huh?

Him:  I need to watch the game, sorry.

No more musings from The Mister tonight.  God bless you all. And if you want to make The Mister happy, pray for the Toronto Maple Leafs…they need a miracle.

Amazing Love

There are many, many verses about the love God has for us to be found throughout the Bible. The most well known verse about His love is John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

When I first invited Jesus into my life and threw myself into studying the Bible, I knew God loved me, but it wasn’t until I became a parent that I came to have a better understanding of the intensity of that love.  I feel like God invented parenthood to give us an idea of His love for us.

The moment I first held my child, I realized I could be destroyed. Looking at that sweet girl, sleeping in my arms, I suddenly knew that I would die for her if I had to, and I understood that if anything horrible ever happened to her, my life as I knew it, would be over, just utterly destroyed.

I love her so much, I decided I wanted to have another, but once I was pregnant with my second, I worried about whether or not I’d be able to love this child as much as the first because I suddenly couldn’t imagine loving anyone else the way I love my first child. But I wasted my time with all that worry.  My second daughter is loved as much as the first.  God doesn’t play favourites either.  Rich or poor, upstanding citizen or hardened criminal, it doesn’t matter…He loves the poor beggar in Mumbai just as much as He loves the King of Denmark.

Once my girls grew out of the sweetness of toddlerhood, they began fighting with each other all the time! It drove me crazy the way they’d argue.  They would have screaming matches, yelling hateful and hurtful things at one another. I’d have to throw myself into the fray, and send them to their rooms to split them up so I could have some peace and quiet. That never changed my love for them.

Like far too many other kids, as they got older, they started doing other things that got them into trouble and stressed me right out. I can’t tell you how many nights I would lay awake, worrying about them. I would pray for them, asking God to keep the promise that if we “Train up a child in the way he should go, when he is old he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6). I still cling to that promise now that my girls are women.

When my youngest was 15, she really stepped up her game. She was picked up for shoplifting, started smoking pot, got so drunk that she passed out in a public place and was thrown into a cell at the local jail to sober up. I was angry, disappointed and worried, but never once did my love for her waver. Not even for a second.  She wound up grounded for a looooooong time, and I’m pretty sure she hated me for it, but that didn’t change my love for her.

I love my children so much that there is literally nothing they can do to make me stop loving them. Not a thing. (I was a pretty difficult teenager myself, so once I was dealing with teen girls of my own, I phoned my mom to apologize for all the worry I had caused her when I was growing up. She laughed and said something about revenge being sweet haha.)

There’s nothing that we can ever do to make God stop loving us. His love is eternal, never ending. We humans lie, cheat, steal, murder, use and abuse others, and often ignore God entirely, but He never stops loving us. His love is unconditional, and He wants a relationship with us.  We are all the prodigal son, and God wants us to come to Him through Jesus, to love Him and claim our place as his heirs.  He wants to forgive us and set us free, we just have to ask.

Earlier in this post, I said I think God created parenthood to give us an idea of His love for us. The reason I said “idea” is because we will never really comprehend the true depth of that love. You see, he loves us so much, that He offered His son as a sacrifice to redeem us so we could become the children of God. Would you offer your child to redeem others? I wouldn’t. The very thought of doing that is way beyond the scope of my imagination. If I were God, the world would perish because there’s no way I would sacrifice my beloved child for the redemption of others.  Nobody would have freewill, I’d force everyone to worship and love me. Thank God I’m not God.

 

 

 

The Biblical Case for Monogamy

I’ve been hearing a lot lately about polyamorous relationships. For those of you unfamiliar with that term, it’s a romantic relationship consisting of more than two partners. Of course, we’ve all heard about the FLDS and Islamic practices of polygamy, but now, it’s even being practiced by people who aren’t members of either of those religions.  There are shows on television about polygamy as the enemy uses that medium to bombard us with the message that it’s just a different lifestyle, and if everybody involved is happy with it, then what’s the big deal?

Recently, I’ve had a couple of people tell me that polygamy must be okay with God because it’s in the Bible. My answer to that is there’s an awful lot of sin mentioned in the Bible, and we know sin is not okay with Him.

In Genesis, we are told:

The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone.  I will make a helper suitable for him.” ~ Genesis 2:18

A helper, not helpers. If God had meant for Adam to have more than one wife, He would have created Eve, Jessica, Susan, and so on. Likewise, if He’d meant for Eve to have more than one husband, He’d have created Adam, Jeff and Omar, etc. But He didn’t do that.

Remember Noah’s ark and the great flood? The only humans to survive were four monogamous couples.

In the New Testament, Jesus Himself quoted scripture, saying:

“For this reason, a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” ~ Ephesians 5:31

United to his wife (singular) and the two (not three or more) will become one flesh.

In his letter to the Corinthians, Paul used the singular “husband” and “wife,” making it clear there is only room for two people in a marriage:

“But since sexual immorality is occurring, each man should have sexual relations with his own wife, and each woman with her own husband.” ~ 1 Corinthians 7:2

Jesus said that a man who divorces his wife and marries another is an adulterer:

“I tell you that anyone who divorced his wife, except for sexual immorality, and married another woman commits adultery.” ~ Matthew 19:9

If divorcing a wife and taking another makes a man an adulterer, it stands to reason that taking another wife while still married to the first would also make one an adulterer.

Scripture is very clear about God wanting His people to be monogamous. The king of the Israelites was supposed to be monogamous:

He must not take many wives, or his heart will be led astray. He must not accumulate large amounts of silver and gold. ~ Deuteronomy 17:17

David took many wives, and look at what a mess he made. Solomon’s many wives turned him to idolatry.

In describing the requirements and duties of church elders, Paul wrote:

“If anyone is above reproach, the husband of one wife, and his children are believers and not open to the charge of debauchery and insubordination.” ~ Titus 1:6

Muhammed claimed the angel Gabriel revealed to him that Muslim men could have up to four wives and as many sex slaves as they wanted. He also said the angel told him that he was special, so he could have up to 11 wives and all the sex slaves he could capture. Joseph Smith claimed that God sent him a revelation that men are to have many wives, but when the USA wouldn’t allow Utah to become a state in the union as long as the Mormons were practicing polygamy, Brigham Young claimed to have suddenly received a new revelation from God that there would be no more polygamy.  These things simply cannot be true because the Bible tells us that:

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. ~ Hebrews 13:18

He doesn’t make special rules for certain people, and He’s not wishy-washy, telling people to have more than one spouse, then changing His mind and telling them they can’t.

Everything we need to know about what a marriage should be is found in the Bible, not in the Book of Mormon, nor in the Quran. You cannot have true intimacy with more than one partner; that would be just sex. True intimacy in a marriage requires the fidelity of both partners, and bringing in other people destroys that intimacy. The only third partner in any marriage should be God.

What a Year!

As I lay here in bed on this last day of 2017, I find that instead of compiling a list of changes I want to make in the new year, I can’t stop thinking about all the amazing things The Lord has done in my life over the past 12 months.

When 2017 began, I was being treated for clinical depression with anxiety disorder.  There were times I felt so depressed, I wished I could just lay down and die.  I wanted to close my eyes in this world, and open them in the presence of God.  I was at a point where even if I had the house full of people, I felt completely alone.  And I couldn’t sleep.  I’d go to bed, then toss and turn, and eventually make my way back downstairs, where I would read or watch TV, hoping that would put me to sleep.  On the nights when I could sleep, it was only for an hour or two at a time, then I’d be wide awake again.  It was awful.  I was unable to focus or concentrate on anything due to the lack of sleep, and the anti-depressants I was taking exacerbated that fuzziness.  My doctor told me that insomnia is a symptom of depression and anxiety, but I felt like it was the cause of those mental health issues.

To make matters worse, I felt like I was letting everybody down, including my employer, and those feelings of failure were contributing to the anxiety.  I decided to quit my job, let somebody else have it.  It was shortly after I made that decision that my doctor finally prescribed some sleeping pills, and the depression completely disappeared within a few days of getting a full seven to eight hours of sleep every night.  But the anxiety lingered.

Prior to discovering that insomnia was the real culprit causing the depression, I submitted my DNA for analysis, hoping that I might find a family member on my biological father’s side of the family.  I never knew him, and I wanted to know his medical history.  I thought that, perhaps, someone on that side of my lineage could shed some light on the depression and anxiety, and let me know if there were any ticking time bombs I should be worried about.  Is there heart disease on that side?  Kidney disease?  Liver disease?  Dementia?  I had absolutely no idea what could be lurking in my genes.  So my husband bought me a DNA kit, I spit in the tube and mailed it off.

While waiting for my DNA results, my guy’s heart disease was growing steadily worse.  He was gasping for air while just sitting on the sofa because his heart wasn’t pumping efficiently…he always felt short of breath, and just a simple walk up one flight of stairs to our bedroom was very taxing.  Even if I had the central air set to the highest setting, sweat would pour off his body, which was another symptom of the heart disease, and his complexion was becoming grey.  We found a new doctor, who ordered tests, and we finally got a diagnosis as to what was going on in there:  in addition to the cardiomyopathy (which we already knew about), one of his arteries was more than 80 percent collapsed.  A stent was inserted into the collapsed artery, and he improved immediately.  His colour changed, his blood pressure became more normal, he was breathing properly, and the sweating stopped.  Suddenly, my anxiety was cut in half.  They decided that, since he has cardiomyopathy, they would put a pacemaker-defibrillator into his chest.  The pacemaker will help his heart beat at a steady rhythm, and the defibrillator will shock his heart should he go into cardiac arrest.  But we would have to wait for that to take place.

While waiting for the procedure, my DNA results arrived.  The information I received indicated that their database contains the DNA of over 1,400 relatives!  As I scrolled through the list, I saw names of cousins I’ve known my whole life, and even more people I’d never heard of.  The person at the top was listed as my closest relative in the database, so I sent her a message to try and figure out how we’re related.  Turns out, I had found a sister.  She was able to answer all of my questions about my biological father’s medical history.  I learned that depression and anxiety are issues on that side of the family, and that there is heart disease as well.  I also learned that I have nine brothers and sisters!  Wow!  I’m now in touch with four younger sisters and one older brother online, and I got to meet one of my sisters and a nephew in person in November.  Unfortunately, two older sisters have passed away, so I will not get to meet them, and I have yet to make contact with another older brother and a younger brother.  My whole life, I wondered if I had any brothers and sisters through my biological father, so that question was finally answered, too.  I really hit the jackpot!

Two weeks after meeting my sister and nephew, the cardiologist inserted that device in my husband’s chest, and the remaining anxiety I was feeling disappeared.  Poof, it’s gone!

I’m blessed to have a situation where we can afford for me not to work, but I felt like I needed something to do, and it would be nice to have some extra money around here to to do fun things like travelling or going to the museum, stuff like that, so I’ve started my own little business at home, typing court transcripts.  I can do it from anywhere in the world, so once my husband has recovered completely, I’m hoping to go to a lot of the places that are on my bucket list.

Yes, 2017 had a horrible start, and when things were at their absolute worst, I would cling to this verse:

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose. ~ Romans 8:28 (NIV)

When praying, I would tell God, “I’m trusting you, Lord.  I’m believing that promise.  I’m thanking you that all of this is going to work together for my good.”  He knew the whole time where all of that horrible depression and anxiety were leading me, and I just had to trust Him that it was going to be somewhere good.  Had I not experienced those issues, I wouldn’t have found my long lost brothers and sisters.

So I sleep now.  I’m no longer depressed, and the anxiety is gone.  I’ve just had echocardiogram and electrocardiogram procedures, and will get the results at my next doctor appointment.  I’m hoping and praying that they will be good and, if they’re not, I’m glad I’ll be finding out so my doctor can develop a treatment plan.  I got to spend time with my family in America, and got to meet family members I never knew existed.  And I’m feeling very positive about my husband’s health.  The year that came in horribly, is going out beautifully.  God is so good!

I want to give a shout-out to the people who were covering me in prayer as I went through all of this:  Sharon, Joan, Jillian, Vickie, April, Paul, Shelley, Lisa, Judith, Sandra, Kandi and, of course, my wonderful mom.  And a special thanks to my man, Sean, who stuck by me even when he thought I was losing my mind.  He held me up in prayer and in his arms, soothed my fears and made life bearable.  You all bless me beyond measure, I love you so very much!

And as for 2018, well, I’m going to try to knock off all the weight gained from those anti-depressants, maybe stop using my cardio equipment as expensive laundry hangers.  And if I start going through any dark times, I will call on God and claim this promise:

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” ~ Jeremiah 29:11

I pray you will have a happy, healthy and prosperous new year, and that you will keep God in the centre of your lives.  God bless.

 

My Heart’s Desires

“Take delight in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart.

Psalm 37:4 (NIV)

That’s a pretty sweet promise, isn’t it? Sounds like if you know God, He will give you whatever your heart desires, right? That’s not quite how it works. In Mark 7:21-22 we’re told, “For it is from within, out of a person’s heart, that evil thoughts come—sexual immorality, theft murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly.” Why on earth would God indulge those desires? He wouldn’t!  I believe that once we enter into a relationship with Jesus, He changes our heart’s desires. One might say that He gives us new desires.

I used to be pretty hung up on material things. I wanted a nice big house, expensive clothes, a flashy car and a lot of money. I thought having those things would make me happy. But, lately, I’ve been comparing the things I used to think were important to the things I now think are important, and can really see that The Lord has changed my wants, has put new desires in my heart.  I look around at my house, and instead of something bigger, I want to downsize into something smaller. I’m not interested in dressing up, and find I just want to wear comfy jeans and tee shirts. I don’t want a flashy car, just want the one I have to be reliable. I don’t want a lot of money, just enough to pay my bills. In fact, if I were to suddenly become flush with cash, I’d wind up making more charitable donations because I already have everything I need: a God who loves me so much He literally gave His life for me, a husband who loves me, children who love me, friends who love me, a little dog who worships me, and pretty good health. What more could I ask for? God is soooo good! He has made me happy!

The things that have become more important to me than material things are a closer relationship with God, the salvation of my friends and family, helping others, the freedom to worship The Lord without fear of persecution. I want to be happy, of course, just like everybody else does, but I wasted so much time for so many years measuring my happiness based on material things, rather than what matters. True joy comes from God, not our possessions or station in life.

It’s so easy to get caught up in material things…Wow, that’s a beautiful car/house/dress/suit/business/boat/whatever. But our worldly wants clash with what God wants for us. He wants us to spend eternity in the warmth of His love, while we’re more concerned about keeping up with the neighbours. We need to concern ourselves with keeping up with the Kingdom of Heaven, not the folks at 758 Main Street.

There’s nothing wrong with wanting to have a good job, a nice automobile, or a drop-dead gorgeous home. But if that’s all you want, if that’s more important than what God wants for you, then you will never be satisfied. And even if you are able to fulfill all of those worldly desires, you could lose them in a second. Don’t believe me? Google “Stock Market Crash of 1929.”

Let’s face it, there will always be somebody with a nicer home, a flashier car, better clothes, etc., but there will never – NEVER – be anybody that God loves more than He loves you. He adores you! He wants to spend eternity with you. Eternity…can you imagine? The first billion years will be like the first day, it is never ending.

So take the time to think about it…would you rather have an awesome mansion here, that will eventually become a run-down hovel, or a place in God’s kingdom? That saying, “You can’t take it with you,” is spot on. You can work your butt off to amass a fortune, and then, lose it all in a day. God loves the poor wino on skid row just as much as He loves the billionaire in a mansion. He loves you more than you can imagine. I still have trouble wrapping my mind around His love for us because it is so intense.

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in Heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will also be.”

Matthew 6:19-21 NIV

That’s not to say you shouldn’t work hard to better yourself or have a nice car and/or home. But you shouldn’t make getting those things your priority. Give your heart to God, and He will give you your heart’s desires.

I thank The Lord for each and every one of you. God bless.

Thanking God

One of the things I love about being an American ex-pat living in Canada is getting two Thanksgiving Days. Thanksgiving is celebrated by Canadians on the second Monday of October, and Americans celebrate Thanksgiving on the fourth Thursday of November. The Mister and I host a turkey dinner for our Canadian family, then get to take a road trip to my sister’s place in Texas, where she hosts a turkey dinner for our American family. I’m so thankful to be able to spend time with family members on both sides of the border.

Once everybody is seated around the table, somebody will ask everybody in attendance what they feel thankful for. I know that a lot of people do that, but what about the other days of the year? 1 Thessalonians 5:18 tells us to “give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (NIV)

All circumstances? Really? Even when everything seems to be going wrong? Especially then! When we’re facing trials in our daily lives, ask God to get you through them, and thank Him for being there for you to lean on so you don’t have to go through it alone. It’s easy to thank Him when life is all sunshine and lollipops, but I think a lot of us need to work on giving thanks in times of trouble. It’s something I’m working on in my own life.

Recently, The Mister’s cardiomyopathy took a turn for the worse, and his health was in a downward spiral. He would break out in a sweat just sitting on the sofa, struggling to breathe because he felt he wasn’t getting enough oxygen due to his heart disease. Just getting up to grab a snack in the kitchen tired him out. It hurt my heart to see him like that. I felt so helpless because I couldn’t do anything to make his heart better. My first instinct was sheer panic, but I had to hide what I was feeling so as not to worry my man. I prayed, and started to feel confident that all would work out for the best. I asked others to pray for him, and felt even more confident. I thanked God that The Mister was still alive, which meant there was still hope for him…hope for us.

We found a new doctor, who referred him to a cardiologist, who ordered an angiogram. The results were bad. One of his arteries was 80% collapsed, and a few others are in the process of collapsing. I thanked God that now we knew what was going on in there.

An angioplasty was ordered to fix the artery that was 80% collapsed. I fretted for a bit, worried about the procedure, and then thought about how much scarier it was when I didn’t know what was going on. I thanked God that we’re living in an age where the technology exists to put a stent in an artery.

The procedure was a success, and The Mister experienced immediate results. His breathing returned to normal, the sweating stopped. I gave thanks to The Lord for prayers answered. He still needs a pacemaker/defibrillator placed in his heart, and I thank God for the people who developed the device and procedure.

There is so much to be thankful for that we take for granted. Just waking up in the morning is something to be thankful for. Having a place to live, food on the table, and people I love in my life are things to give thanks for.

I thank the checkout girl at the grocery store, so shouldn’t I thank God that there’s a grocery store to go to? I thank the waiter who serves my meal in a restaurant, so shouldn’t I thank The Lord for providing the money that allows me to go out to eat?

And I thank God for all the bad stuff I’ve experienced in the past because I have learned from it and have been able to help others going through rough times.

I hope you’ll join me in my new endeavour, which is to thank God throughout the day. When I wake up in the morning, I will thank Him for another day of life. If it’s raining, I will thank Him for providing water for us. If it’s sunny, I will thank him for a beautiful day, and so on. I will thank Him for things that have not yet happened because I have faith that He will make them happen…things like the salvation of a lost loved one, and The Mister making a complete recovery once that device is put into his heart.

It’s good to go to God in prayer. Don’t forget to say thanks.

P.S. Since I originally penned this, I teceived some personal news that came as a huge shock to me. And I thanked God for it. I thanked God that the truth of a certain situation has finally been brought into the light, and I gave thanks for the way things worked out. I thanked Him for the love my mother has given to me throughout the years, and I thanked Him for my little sister, who phoned me as soon as she learned the news as well. I am truly blessed.

Love Each Other

I have an online friend, goes by the name of Simon Peter.  He loves the Lord with all his heart, so I assume the name he uses online is a nom de plume in honour of the disciple.

The other day, Simon posted this:
“I’ve watched people over the past two weeks celebrate the death of someone’s son, a man who most of them probably don’t know.  If you asked them why they are cheering this or hate him, they would probably tell you Bolling is a ‘racist’ because that’s what our major sources of information will tell you about conservatives or even Christians.”

The man Simon is talking about is Eric Bolling, a former Fox News personality, who lost his son on the same day that Fox let him go.  People on social media were gleefully reporting this news, seemingly thrilled by it, because they believe Mr. Bollings is a racist simply because he leans to the right politically.  They celebrated the death of his beloved son because Mr. Bollings is a conservative.

As Simon mentioned, that sort of hatred is not just reserved for conservatives; some folks love to hate Christians, too.  Well, they think they hate Christians, but it’s really Jesus whom they hate.  As Jesus said, “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first” (John 15:18 NIV), and, “You will be hated by everyone because of me, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved” (Matthew 10:22 NIV).  They see Jesus in us, and they hate us for it.  We’re in this world, but we’re not of it, and that bothers them.  Misery loves company, so they want us to be just like them, so miserable that we’d celebrate the death of a fellow human being.

Christ called us to love one another.  He didn’t tell us to love our neighbour, unless he’s gay, or black, or white, or purple, or Muslim, or Buddhist, or liberal or conservative, or any other descriptor.  He said we are to love our neighbour.  Period.  Jesus came for all people for all have sinned and need only what He can give:  redemption and reconciliation with our creator.

God is soooooo big, that when you let Him into your heart, there is no room left in it for things like hatred, bigotry or racism.  When you allow yourself to fully feel the love God has for you, you start to feel love for everybody else, even those you disagree with.  You may still disagree with them, but you won’t hate them or wish them ill-will.

It hurts my heart to know that some people are so lost that they are celebrating the death of somebody, reveling in the pain of loss experienced by another.  Where is their empathy?  I cannot adequately express how deeply this grieves me.  I take no joy in the misfortunes of my ideological opponents.  Sure, I call out evil when I see it; I call out hypocrisy when I see it; I call out ideologies I feel are dangerous.  But I don’t wish death on anybody.  That doesn’t make me a better person than the people who are thrilled at that young man’s death for the pain it caused his father.  I’m a sinner, just like them.  The only difference between me and them – and it’s a massive one – is that I asked God to save me through Jesus, and to change my heart.  I’m certainly not perfect, and I can be downright snarky – as Simon can probably tell you – but at my core, I want everybody to be saved, happy, healthy and filled with love for one another, no matter their politics or the levels of melanin in their skin.

I just want to say one more thing.  People would call Simon a black man, and me a white woman, but I call us human.  Don’t allow yourself to be caught in the trap of identity politics, which do nothing but divide.  Put God first, and everything else will fall into place, most importantly, your heart.

Until next time, God bless.